RB Brown can't help but smile to be an Eagle


RB Brown can't help but smile to be an Eagle

BETHLEHEM, Pa. Ronnie Brown's face pretty much told the whole story. The 29-year-old running back showed up to Lehigh University for the first time on Wednesday after being signed by the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday evening. He wore a green Eagles visor and an ear-to-ear grin. The visor was handed to him before he faced the media. The smile hes worn since he found out hed be coming to Philadelphia. Just at this point in my career, Im looking back and Im looking at the opportunity and its not so much the financial standpoint, Brown said. Its more about winning and putting myself in a good situation where I feel comfortable with a team.Winning is something Brown didnt do much of in Miami. He spent six years with the Dolphins with only one winning season and one playoff appearance. His 4,815 yards rank him third on the Dolphins all-time list, but now pressed against that running back doomsday age of 30, he wants to win. And he wants to do it now. That was tough, he said. At the end of the day, you want to win games. Not being able to get past the regular season was tough. After Jason Babin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha and Vince Young, Brown is the fifth Pro Bowl player the Eagles have added in the past week. You can tell by some of the moves theyve made this off-season that they put winning first, Brown said. I sat back and weighed all of my options and thought this would be a good fit for myself.Just when it seemed Browns plastered-on smile couldnt get any wider, someone mentioned the name Michael Vick. Brown said Vick was one of the reasons he signed with the Eagles.Im very excited. You can see the way I smile when you ask me a question about Mike, Brown said. The things that he brings as a football player, talent-wise. I think a lot of people talk about this running ability, but his arm, as well, is dangerous.The quarterbacks here and everybody knows who it is. Not a knock on Miami, but since Ive been there Ive played with maybe 12 or 13 different guys at that position. Just to have a little bit of stability, its gonna make a lot of difference. Brown has spent much of his career splitting carries with Ricky Williams. Its a role he became familiar with while playing at Auburn University, where he split carries with Cadillac Williams.He enjoyed being one of two running backs at Auburn and with Miami. The backup running back position with the Eagles, however, is a peculiar one. Last season, the combination of Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell had only 56 attempts, while starter LeSean McCoy had 207 attempts for 1,080 yards and seven rushing touchdowns, but certainly Brown is an upgrade. LeSean and myself, were a little bit different as far as size and he has a lot of catches, Brown said. For myself, I like to get downhill a little bit more and present that option. So I felt that would be a good fit. McCoy caught 78 passes last year for nearly 600 yards and two touchdowns and caught 40 passes two years ago. Im happy Ronnies here, McCoy said. Hes a great player, as much as I know of him. The more talents the better. Im extremely excited.Just like McCoy, Brown can catch the ball out of the backfield too. He has caught 30 or more passes all but one year in his career. But besides just rushing and catching the football, Brown can throw a little bit too. He has four career completions, two of which went for touchdowns.
So will he be tossing a few this season too?I dont know, Brown said. It might have been a possibility. We didnt get in depth about what I was gonna do. I think we just scratched the surface a little bit.The reason the Eagles may have just scratched the surface with Brown is that he can run the Wildcat. In fact, it was Browns success with the Wildcat in Miami that it so popular in the NFL.I dont know. The Wildcat would be exciting. Im trying to figure who would or wouldnt be in the game, Brown said as his smile widened again. Theres so much talent here, you dont even know what anybody would be doing.McCoy, on Wednesday, seemed just as excited about the possibilities his newest running back teammate brings to the table. Thats the best thing about it, he said, to get an extra back here that can play like him. Kind of mix it up a little bit. In two of the past four years, Browns season has been shortened by surgery, but he said hes now healthy and ready to go. Hes also ready to form a bond with his new teammate and the No. 1 running back on the Eagles depth chart. McCoy is an excited guy, Brown said. Hes excited about playing football, which is always good and I look forward to creating a relationship with him and going out the win some games together.E-mail Dave Zangaro at dzangaro@comcastsportsnet.com

MLB Notes: Rangers' Rougned Odor's suspension reduced to 7 games


MLB Notes: Rangers' Rougned Odor's suspension reduced to 7 games

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor started serving his suspension Friday for punching Toronto's Jose Bautista after the penalty was reduced from eight to seven games.

Odor was out of the lineup for the series opener against Pittsburgh. He will be eligible to return June 4 when Texas is home against Seattle.

Bautista was suspended one game, and he was serving that Friday, when the penalty was upheld a day after his appeal was heard.

The Rangers promoted former top prospect Jurickson Profar from Triple-A Round Rock, and he was in the lineup against the Pirates as the leadoff hitter playing second base. Odor had been leading off.

Odor's penalty was cut by Major League Baseball special assistant John McHale Jr. The appeal over Odor's role in a May 15 brawl between the Rangers and Blue Jays was heard Tuesday. The league disciplined 14 players and staff over the melee in Arlington (see full story).

Red Sox: Struggling RHP Clay Buchholz to bullpen
TORONTO -- Struggling Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz is being moved to the bullpen and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will take Buchholz's spot in the rotation, starting Tuesday at Baltimore.

Buchholz is 2-5 with a 6.35 ERA in 10 starts and has allowed five earned runs or more six times. He gave up season-highs of six runs and three home runs in Thursday's 8-2 loss to Colorado.

Rodriguez (right knee) is on the 15-day DL has not pitched for the Red Sox this season. He's 0-3 with a 3.54 ERA in five rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He went 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA as a rookie in 2015.

Buchholz has made two career relief appearances, one in his rookie season in 2007 and another in 2008.

Manager John Farrell said Buchholz will make multi-inning appearances in order to remain stretched out and could return to the rotation later in the season.

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance


NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance


TORONTO -- LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their second straight NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night.

It's the third finals appearance in team history for the Cavaliers. Cleveland lost to Golden State in six games last year and got swept by San Antonio in 2007.

For James, it's his sixth straight trip to the finals, including four with Miami. He broke the 30-point barrier for the first time this postseason and finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

"We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that," coach Tyronn Lue said.

James will be the eighth player in NBA history to appear in six consecutive finals and the first who didn't play for the Boston Celtics.

"He's just a great player," Lue said. "He's a proven winner. He's always won over the course of his career. To go to six straight finals is unbelievable."

James got there by taking down a Toronto team that set a franchise record with 56 wins and reached the conference finals for the first time in 21 seasons.

After a second-quarter dunk, James shared some verbal barbs with rapper Drake, the Raptors' global ambassador and the man who popularized the nickname `6ix' for Toronto.

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith added 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series on Thursday.

Cleveland would open at home against the Thunder but would be on the road against the 73-win Warriors, who trail 3-2 against Oklahoma City heading into Saturday's Game 6.

The Cavs will be seeking to end Cleveland's 52-year championship drought, the longest by any city with at least three professional teams. No Cleveland team has won it all since the Browns blanked Baltimore 27-0 to win the NFL championship in 1964.

"This city has been craving a championship," Lue said. "We have the right team and we have the right talent."

Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 20 as the deepest playoff run in Raptors team history ended, much to the disappointment of a sellout crowd of 20,605 dressed in red and white T-shirts that formed a maple leaf pattern on either side of the court. Fans stood and cheered "Let's go, Raptors! Let's go, Raptors!" throughout most of the final three minutes.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said reaching the conference finals was "a tremendous learning experience" for his young team, one that's "a step ahead" in its process of becoming a championship contender.

"We're learning," Casey said. "We're not where (the Cavaliers) are right now. We're going to be."

A dejected Lowry said it was hard to see the positive side of Toronto's best season ever.

"Of course you're going to look back at some point but right now I'm disappointed," he said. "Simple as that, I'm disappointed."

Toronto prolonged the series with back-to-back home wins in Games 3 and 4 but never mounted much of a challenge to the conference champions in Game 6, falling behind by 21 in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers came in 0-4 at Air Canada Centre counting the regular season and playoffs, but looked much more like the team that handed the Raptors a trio of lopsided losses in Cleveland this series.

The Raptors trailed 88-78 on a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavs a 102-81 lead with about 6 minutes left.

James scored 14 in the first and five of Cleveland's nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led 31-25 after one.

After video review, the officials waved off a basket by Biyombo with 3:18 left in the period and gave him a flagrant foul for knocking down Love.

Tempers flared again early in the second when Richard Jefferson reacted angrily to catching an elbow from Jonas Valanciunas as the two battled for a rebound. Patrick Patterson came over and shoved Jefferson out of the way. Both Patterson and Jefferson were given technical fouls.

Cleveland made five more 3-pointers in the second and outscored Toronto 9-3 over the final 71 seconds to lead 55-41 at halftime. The Cavaliers made 10 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half, while Toronto was 2 of 12.

The Cavs led 78-57 after a 3 by Love at 3:53 of the third but Lowry scored 15 points as Toronto closed the quarter with a 17-8 run, cutting it to 86-74.

Cavaliers: Shot 17 for 31 from 3-point range. ... Outscored Toronto 17-5 in fast break points.

Raptors: Finished their playoff run by playing every other day from April 29 onward, a 15-game run that started with Game 6 of the first round against Indiana.

NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years


NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

NEW YORK -- A person familiar with the negotiations says the New York Jets made a three-year offer to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in March that includes $12 million guaranteed in the first year.

That offer has remained on the table for Fitzpatrick, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side is commenting publicly on the negotiations.

The New York Post first reported the terms of the offer Friday.

Fitzpatrick and the Jets have been locked in a contract stalemate. The 33-year-old quarterback is a free agent and coming off a season in which he threw a Jets-record 31 touchdown passes and led New York within a victory of the playoffs.

Both the Jets and Fitzpatrick have said they would like a reunion, but have unable to agree on a deal.

Bears: First-round pick Leonard Floyd agrees to deal
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears and first-round draft pick Leonard Floyd have agreed to a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year.

The Bears drafted the outside linebacker from Georgia with the ninth pick after trading up two spots in a deal with Tampa Bay. Chicago hopes he will add some athleticism to a team trying to build on a 6-10 season. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Floyd led the Bulldogs in sacks for the third straight year with 4 , and tied for the team lead with 10 1/2 tackles for loss last season.

With the announcement Friday, the Bears have agreed to contracts with eight of their nine picks. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard, a third-rounder, is the exception.

NFL: Navy's Reynolds, Carter can defer military service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Keenan Reynolds will get his chance to play in the NFL this season.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Friday that the record-setting Navy quarterback Reynolds and fullback Chris Swain can defer their military service to play in the NFL.

Carter made the announcement during his graduation speech to the academy in Annapolis. As students cheered the news about their graduating classmates, Carter said: "Go get 'em."

Reynolds was drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens. He is the NCAA's career leader in touchdowns with 88. He had 31 touchdown passes while leading Navy's triple-option offense. The Ravens plan to use him as a running back, receiver and kick returner.

Swain has signed with the San Diego Chargers (see full story).

Redskins: Activists criticize poll on team name
WASHINGTON -- Native American leaders and activists have criticized a recent US national poll that found nine of 10 Native Americans aren't offended by the Washington Redskins' name.

On a conference call held Friday by the National Congress of American Indians and "Change the Mascot" campaign, panelists voiced opposition to a Washington Post poll that surveyed 504 Native Americans, 90 percent of whom said the name doesn't bother them.

James Fenelon, a California State San Bernardino sociology professor, called the poll "immoral," adding it was not representative of Native American communities. Amanda Blackhorse, lead plaintiff in the trademark case against the Redskins, said the "misguided" poll will not affect attempts to change the name.

National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata said: "This issue is not about polling. This issue is about human rights."

D.C. council member David Grosso said he hadn't been swayed and that the government would not support the team moving back into the District unless the name was changed.

The team currently plays its home games in Maryland, with its headquarters and training facility in Virginia.